Tuesday, October 10, 2006

wake (up)

I hate wakes. I hate the whole idea, the whole custom...they seem anti-everything death ought to be about. On my list of 100 things I hate most, attending a wake is 101. At least at a funeral stuff happens, like the wax work is put in the ground where it belongs. EEEwwww, is there anything worse than seeing a grieving widow next to the lifeless body of her husband, stroking his cheek and saying how wonderful he looks. I cannot abide hearing that phrase describing a freakin' corpse, for pete's sake. It's horrible. I like a culture that takes a dead person or a dying one home to die or be buried and the preparations are done in the house. Friends come over and help. There is a sense of expectation and understanding that death is part of life. A body does not just appear in it's Sunday best in a satin-lined box like a restaurant entree on display.

I was watching the children who were there, running around, full of life. I hoped that in their generation maybe this custom would "die" out. I know it is from our parents' generation and their parents before them. It is the right thing to do and no one questions why it is done (except people like me). And I mean no disrespect to people who believe it is right and proper. I just feel it is sort of hypocritical to come dressed in a suit to celebrate the death of a person you had almost zero contact with in life, or his family. I met the folks in attendance at my wedding reception and have seen none of them, or maybe one, since then, almost thirty years. I know the family was grateful, I know they expected near and far kin to come, I understand it's what a mature person does, all that. But somehow it rings so hollow and false.

I know where I'm going when I die, and I'll be so glad to go. All I'll want to say to friends is, "See ya later, because I intend to wake up on the other side". In fact, I may have the funeral director rig a voice message that plays when you lean over my coffin. Actually, I'd rather be cremated and have my ashes put in a circus cannon with confetti, and be shot to kingdom come. Now that would be something to dress up for. The thing is, we're designed to go from life to life, from wake to wake, like a ship passing over a horizon. That is number one on my 100 things I'm looking forward to when that new morning comes.


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